About us

Forum for Comparative Medieval Studies

Comparative literature is an integral part of the study of medieval literature. It focuses not only on texts that are demonstrably interdependent or share the transmission and transformation of narratives and aesthetic traditions; comparative analysis also confronts and compares texts of independent origins on the basis of specific subjects or themes, moving beyond genres or textual traditions. Considering literature in a broader sense, this approach generally entails questions of intermediality and cultural studies.

Yet the comparative approach to medieval studies is itself rarely the focus of scholarly activity. Our Forum for Comparative Medieval Studies therefore aims to serve as a communicative space to discuss theories and practices of premodern comparative literature. We concentrate on and discuss existing research concerning the subjects, theories, and methods of this field, with the aim of developing new approaches of our own. We extend beyond western European culture and literature between the eighth and sixteenth centuries to also include broader transcultural research.

In order to facilitate international cooperation on these topics, we would like to invite you to regular online presentations in English, German or French. You are very welcome to join us! The presentations will be announced via this website as well as a mailing list. If you are interested, please register via the contact form, which will provide you with the link to the lecture.

The initiators:

Lea Braun is a medievalist focusing on German literature. She obtained her PhD at the Humboldt-University in Berlin in 2017 with a monography about the transformations of governance and space in Heinrich of Neustadt’s “Apollonius von Tyrland”. Lea was awarded a PhD-scholarship by the Excellence Cluster “Topoi”; she worked at the SFB 644 “Transformations of Antiquity” and at the University of Heidelberg. Since 2017, she works as a postdoc at the Humboldt-University. Her research interests include concepts of space and time in Middle High German literature, historical narratology, as well as medievalism.

Julia Rüthemann’s field of research is German and French medieval literature, with a special focus on narratology, cultural studies, and gender aspects. She obtained her PhD with a thesis on the poetics of the heart and personification (published in 2021: Die Geburt der Dichtung im Herzen). After working at the University of Mannheim and Potsdam in a comparative DFG-project on German and French first-person allegorical narratives, she now focuses on female authorship in allegorical first-person narratives (esp. in the works of Christine de Pizan and Hadewijch of Antwerp), as part of a Feodor Lynen Research Fellowship of the Humboldt Foundation, at the Centre de Recherches Historiques (CRH-EHESS) in Paris.

Beatrice Trînca is a scholar of Medieval German Literature as well as of the Study of Religion, with a research focus on aesthetics and cultural studies. From 2012 to 2020 she was Assistant Professor for “Religion and Literature in Medieval European Culture and Its Reception, With a Focus on Gender Studies” at the Freie Universtät Berlin. In 2017, she received her ‘Habilitation’ in medieval German language and literature at the Universität Hamburg. The title of her second book is “Amor conspirator. Zur Ästhetik des Verborgenen in der höfischen Literatur” (published in 2019 by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht). Currently, she carries out her research within the Heisenberg Project “Productive Barriers to Communication in the Literature of the High and Late Middle Ages” at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.